For the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banking thrives in an environment where lenders promote activities that make life better for the people. The banks need to embrace sound corporate governance and ensure that their operations impact on lives of those where they do business. That explains why First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited is giving Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a priority by devoting part of its income to projects that promote common good, writes COLLINS NWEZE.
Banking is not all about profitability. It should be done with human face and recognition that the communities where the business is conducted should be direct beneficiaries of the gains that come with banking.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation and Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) agree that banking can only thrive in an environment where Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and commitment to the communities where the business is done are given a priority.
The CBN has, therefore, encouraged the adoption of sustainable banking practice by banks given that environmental and social responsibility support business success and long-term growth.
The regulator believes that sustainable banking is focused on energising the influence of the banking sector (being financier of economic and social activities) towards transforming the longer term interest of the society and societal balancing into key parameters for allocation of capital.
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) is one of the lenders supporting CSR initiatives. The bank is redefining the art of CSR for sustainable development.
The bank believes that the essence of CSR, one of the positive outcomes of sound corporate governance, is impacting positively on the many lives in Nigeria. The bank insists that as a business, there is the need to act responsively and boost its performance, which is why it devotes part of its income to giving back to the society by engaging in various life-changing activities.
Over the years, FCMB has redefined and elevated this practice to a commendable height by consciously championing and executing various programmes in a manner that leaves nobody in doubt as to the commitment of the bank to use CSR as a tool to add value and ensure sustainable development.
The 34-year-old bank has been able to achieve this through its strategic interventions in various areas of human endeavour, especially in its focal CSR areas of poverty alleviation, economic empowerment and environmental sustainability anchored on its mantra of ‘’Teach a man to fish’’. All these gestures are in line with FCMB’s time-tested value as a helpful bank committed to creating opportunities that would further enhance the well-being of individuals, customers, groups and the society.
Though several corporate organisations engage in CSR projects, the nature of the projects FCMB identifies for execution and the impact they make on the overall well-being of humanity and the society stands the bank out.
Speaking on FCMB’s CSR drive, the Group Head, Corporate Affairs of the bank, Diran Olojo, said the lender is aware of the challenges faced by people.
“We are aware of the challenges faced by people and the society. Hence, our choice of bringing hopes and smiles to individuals, communities and the country at large. This is further proof of our culture of excellence and our commitment to doing the right things at all times to ensure sustainable development across various spheres. This ethos has continued to guide our views and approach to not just business, but also CSR,’’ he said.
FCMB’s CSR philosophy, as far as economic empowerment is concerned, is focused on helping to create an enabling environment for empowerment of individuals, businesses and the nation at large through micro-entrepreneurship, microcredit and skills acquisition.
In demonstration of this, the bank last year extended its support to internally displaced women in Maiduguri in Borno State by providing training and financial support to 100 of them to start any small scale business of their choice. The financial institution also organised skill acquisition and other capacity building programmes for the beneficiaries.
Speaking at the fund disbursement, the Borno State Commissioner for Poverty Alleviation, Hajia Inna Galadima, commended FCMB for, ‘’making a difference in the lives of the internally displaced women’’.
FCMB’s intervention in economic empowerment is further seen in its partnership with Wecyclers, an award-winning company involved in recycling, on a waste-to-wealth franchise scheme.
Through this collaboration, the bank is helping to tackle the challenges of waste management by deploying an innovative recycling project aimed at job and wealth creation, while promoting health and sanitation. To further deepen the project, FCMB has put in place a monthly reward scheme for top recyclers. The first batch of winners emerged last month and has been presented with their prizes.
FCMB’s economic empowerment activities have also impacted positively on youths. The bank has instituted a capacity building programme for youths, tagged “Empowered for the Future”.
The initiative, which is in partnership with Youth Empowerment Foundation, focuses on peer-to-peer economic empowerment and reproductive health education for in- and out-of-school adolescents. It started with 50 youths who were trained on various aspects of human development. The beneficiaries are expected to reach out to 750 peers over a one year period, with focus on financial literacy, skill acquisition, sexual and reproductive health, while undergoing vocational training, job shadowing and knowledge building programmes.
Poverty alleviation involves the strategic use of tools, such as education, economic development, health and income redistribution to improve the livelihoods of the world’s poorest people by governments and organisations. Over the years, FCMB has been carrying out activities, through its CSR organ, to tackle this challenge and its attendant effects
One of such initiatives is the Priceless Gift of Sight programme, which the bank has been sponsoring since 2009 in partnership with the Tulsi Chanrai Foundation (TCF), a Nigerian-Indian Non-governmental Organisation (NGO). The programme involves eye screening tests, full ophthalmic medical examination, eye surgeries, provision of free medication, eye glasses and counselling for those suffering from cataract, an eye defect that could lead to blindness if not promptly treated.
Over 100,000 people across Nigeria have so far benefited from this project since the bank took up the sponsorship some years ago. This year, FCMB sponsored 500 eye surgeries in Kebbi, Cross River and Imo states, while over 1000 underwent the screening for cataract during the programme. The bank executed similar programmes in Katsina, Adamawa and Ogun states.
A beneficiary of this year’s programme, Mr. Jonathan Nwosu, 78, from Umuaro Community in Nkwere Local Government of Imo State, described the sight project as a service to humanity. Nwosu, a former commercial vehicle driver,who plied Port Harcourt and Aba until he lost his sight in February 3, last year to cataract, said: “I cannot but sincerely appreciate FCMB for what I consider as service to humanity. I do not have anything to give to show appreciation, but to pray for the Management and staff of the bank. I did not know a thing like this could fall by my feet just like that without anybody asking me to pay anything. I had gone to many places within my financial power in search of treatment that could help me see again, all to no avail. Today, I feel like somebody who came first in a college exam. I pray that God will bless FCMB to continue to do well in its business to be able to continue the good work to humanity’’.
The poverty alleviation programme of FCMB have also been extended to the Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind (FNSB). The bank recently donated 15 Braille machines to its Vocational Training Centre (VCT) in Oshodi, Lagos.
The gesture is aimed at supporting the FNSB in enhancing the standard of teaching, as well as learning of the blind. Established 60 years ago, over 2,000 visually impaired men and women have benefited from the various training programmes at the centre.
FCMB is also playing a very important role in eradicating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) – a group of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections affecting over one billion of the world’s poorest people. These diseases reduce economic productivity and prevent affected individuals from being able to work or care for themselves and their families.
The bank’s intervention to eradicate NTDs, in partnership with Sight Savers, an international NGO, covers four severely affected states (Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara and Sokoto). This involves a mass drug distribution approach by an extensive network of volunteer community drug distributors. The bank’s intervention has gone a long way to combat the impact of the diseases.
The commitment to environmental protection and sustainability remains a core pillar of the CSR focus of FCMB. Indeed, the bank emphasises not just what it achieves as an organisation, but how it achieves it. Hence, the financial institution’s business and operations are designed to ensure that it lends responsibly, promotes financial inclusion, encourages diversity, adheres to health and safety standards, and reduces (or totally avoids where possible) negative impact on the environment. A high-point of the bank’s environmental sustainability is its ability to identify and innovatively devise means of converting challenges posed by the environment to opportunities.
One of such is the bank’s sponsorship of a project that relates to the conversion of water hyacinths to valuable materials in partnership with another NGO, Mitimeth International, since 2015. Under this programme, which has so far been executed at Bayeku community in Ikorodu and Epe, hundreds of people have been trained on how to make handicrafts, such as baskets, lamps, dressing accessories, mugs, vases, and table mats, for commerce from invasive aquatic materials, such as water hyacinths.
With the new skills learnt, women and youths of Bayeku community in Ikorodu, Epe and adjoining communities have been empowered to turn an environmental menace into a source of income, courtesy of FCMB’s CSR intervention.
Furthermore, FCMB has continued to participate in the World Environment Day (WED) celebration over the years. During the commemoration of the day in 2015, the bank collaborated with the Nigeria Conservation Foundation (NCF) to organise programmes to raise awareness on the need to protect the environment.
Among the activities sponsored by the bank was a Flora and Fauna Fancy Dress Competition among pupils aged five and 14 in 40 public and private schools across Lagos. Yearly, the bank also uses the opportunity provided by the WED to visit the Lekki Conservation Centre.
To ensure a cleaner environment, FCMB is partnering the Lagos State Central Business District (CBD) to clean up the Marina/Tinubu Square (TBS) axis of the state. The bank’s support involves the provision of cleaning equipment, apparels and payment of the salaries of the cleaners.
Through its robust activities across its three adopted spheres, FCMB has demonstrated its determination to provide the required support to build a viable society.
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